A (Quick) Tour of Better Homes & Gardens

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

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I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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My trip to Des Moines was a total whirlwind. I arrived at 6:30 PM on Sunday night and headed back to Boston at 5:30 PM on Monday evening. I wasn’t even there for a full 24 hours, but I got to see and learn a lot in that short amount of time. Let’s recap!

On Monday morning, we headed to the Meredith Corporation in Des Moines. Meredith produces a number of magazines, including Better Homes & Gardens, Fitness, Ladies Home Journal, More, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Eating Well, Parents, Traditional Home, and many more. Meredith also has a location in New York City.

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Once we got settled, a small group of us (anyone who had never visited before) received a quick tour of the Meredith campus.

The tour started with a visit to the “Plantoir,” which was purchased by the Meredith Corporation to commemorate its 100th anniversary in 2002. The Plantoir was once displayed in an exhibition at the roof-top garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

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Our next stop was to see copies of the corporation’s very first publications, which included Successful Farming in 1920 and Better Homes & Gardens in 1924.

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Check out the first Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook! We were told it was once wrapped in a red plain tablecloth and photographed, and it’s been marketed that way every since. You’ve seen the red plaid cookbook, right? I think almost everyone in America owns a copy!

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Our tour then led us to the Executive Board room, which is also known as the “Mad Men room” by some Meredith employees.

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Inside was a chair given to E.T. Meredith, the founder of the Meredith Corporation, in Washington, DC while serving as Secretary of Agriculture under President Woodrow Wilson in February 1920. Neat, right?

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Then, we headed to the Wood Shop. A wood shop in a magazine office? Oh, yes.

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Meredith also publishes a magazine called Wood. I had never heard of it until the tour, but it’s one of corporation’s most successful publications. It’s been profitable since the very beginning and its readership is very enthusiastic. (Did anyone just think of Ron Swanson from Parks & Rec? I couldn’t help but think of him during this part of the tour.)

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All of the tools, patterns, and furniture featured in the magazine are tested in the Wood Shop.

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There were gorgeous pieces of wood furniture all over the Meredith offices.

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After seeing the Wood Shop, we headed downstairs to the photo studio, which was a massive space. There were multiple photo shoots going on at once.

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That’s a pretty shot!

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There were props everywhere!

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Each magazine has their own cage of props.

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All of the recipes featured are first tested in the Test Kitchen and then made again (with all real food – no Elmer’s glue for milk) for the photo shoot.

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And, finally, our tour took us to the Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden, which was in winter mode, but still pretty to see.

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I can only imagine how beautiful it would be in the warmer months!

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Questions of the Day

What’s your favorite health/fitness magazine?

What’s your favorite food magazine?

What’s your favorite fashion/decorating/lifestyle magazine?

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48 Comments

  1. That seriously looks like the most fun museum ever! At least to me haha. It’s so amazing to see all of the work that goes into something that seems so trivial to us on a day to day. I love Better Home & Gardens as well 🙂 It’s just all around visually pleasing!

  2. I just discovered a favorite magazine — Mental Floss! Fits in perfectly with my nerdy love of trivia! The website is also really fun and has great quizzes (Guess Which One: Ripped from the Headlines or Scooby Doo plotline?)

  3. Your trip looked like SO. MUCH. FUN! I am originally from the DSM area and I’m a little jealous of your 23 hours in central Iowa 🙂 My favorite magazine overall is probably Food and Wine – They have great recipe and wine recommendations! I have yet to find a fitness magazine that I love. Do you have any good recommendations for fitness reads??

  4. I love the behind the scenes tour! I love all magazines but health/fitness I really like Shape or Women’s Health Mag.

    Food Magazine – I like Cooking Light

    Fashion/Lifestyle – Instyle, Glamour, Allure… ALL OF IT 🙂

  5. It’s a photo-palooza! I love that you took us along for the tour. 🙂 It’s hard for me to choose a favorite magazine in each category because I love how magazines have a unique character. If I could only read 3 magazine subscriptions for the rest of my life though (*gasp*), they would be Women’s Health, the Food Network Magazine, and Real Simple.

    Now, I feel like a bad mother who just admitted she had a favorite child…

  6. This is SO cool! As a journalism major and after working in the industry, I still can never get over how cool magazines, tv stations, and newspaper offices can be on the inside. I LOVE pretty much every health and fitness magazine, but if I had to pick I would say Women’s Health of Fitness magazine. Health is up there too!

  7. I really like Living Without because it has some great allergy-free food tips. Otherwise, Health and Fitness Magazine are my favorites. Better Homes and Gardens is what we use for special occasion inspiration! 🙂 Eating Well is my favorite all-around food magazine.

    That is so cool that you got to visit there!

  8. How cool! I didn’t know they had so much history, or so many magazines! Haha and I’ve never heard of Wood, I wonder who reads it!?!? My favorite magazines are Marie Claire and Runners World, gotta have a little of both worlds!

  9. I love Better Homes and Gardens, and Fitness! Those are my two favorite magazines. What an experience to see first hand how they put them together!

  10. Eating Well is BY FAR my second fave magazine (Real Simple is first) – much more useful than Cooking Light and gorgeous photography!

  11. Looks like a fun trip!

    I absolutely love Runner’s World and Running Time. I don’t have any particular decorating magazine that I like or food magazine. I do love Practical Paleo though! Some of the suggestions from the others are super helpful, I’ll have to check them out!!

  12. My Favorite fitness magazines are: Shape, Women’s Health, Runners’ World
    My Favorite Food Magazine is: Vegetarian Times
    My Favorite fashion/decorating/lifestyle magazine are: Vogue, Better Homes and Garden.

    Tina 🙂

  13. So much fun. I’ve visited the Meredith headquarters before too. It’s so neat there. I love the prop cages. I could spend all day there.

  14. i’ve really been getting away from womens magazines as of late. i read through my glamour and fitness when it comes, but immediately donate them then. i think it’s a healthy step when striving for positive self acceptance. i probably won’t renew, my main mag these days is the wonderful VegNews! for fashion, food, culture, anything 🙂

  15. I love Fitness magazine, but we can’t get it easily in the UK. However, as I got an iPad for my birthday I was able to subscribe 😀

    I’m not really in to food magazines, I tend to use the internet or cookbooks. That said, I do sneak a peek at my mum’s Good Housekeeping magazine! I’m so jealous of your trip. I’d love to work for a magazine. It looks so cool there!

  16. So jealous that you got to spend the day at the Meredith offices! Growing up in Iowa, my dream job was to work at one of their magazines! I now market auto parts for a living, but still dream of writing full-time. Favorite magazines? Self, Health and Better Homes and Gardens.

  17. My favorite fitness magazine is runners world and my favorite magazine of all time is the Economist. Its the inner political science nerd in me. Looks like you had a lot of fun.

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